Monday, February 28, 2011

I am so very, very tired


  • Yesterday I finished the first round of taping and mudding on the drywall above my new bathtub ... at 10:15pm.

  • And then I sat up for a while trying to make sure the sump pump was working.
  • And then when I tried to go to sleep, The Storm of Massive Rain and Eternal Lightning-ness started up, making it impossible to get to sleep
  • So I checked on the sump pump - still working.
  • And then when I tried to go to sleep, I listened to the worsening storm and worried about the sump pump.
  • So I checked on the sump pump - still working.
  • The last time I checked the clock, it was 3:30am.
  • At 6am Jason got up, went downstairs, came back upstairs, and announced that our whole basement was several inches underwater.
  • So then Jason, Liza and I carted everything from the basement upstairs, sorting it into "dry," "wet," and "why the hell did we have that anyway?" piles in different rooms in the house.

  • I also wet vacuumed all the puddles up out of the basement.
  • Then I took Liza to school, only an hour late.
  • Then I went to Home Depot, where I joined half of the residents of Cuyahoga County in the aisles for mops, shelving units, wet vacs, and garbage bags.  I wish Home Depot also sold alcohol.
  • Then I did the second round of mudding on the bathroom walls.

  • Then I carried the "why the hell did we have that anyway?" pile out to the garbage.
  • Then I started mopping the floor in the basement, first with Clorox, then with water.  Now instead of mildew, it smells like bleach and mildew and wet cat hair.
  • Then I started moving things back into the basement, sorting out a bunch of stuff for Goodwill and the consignment store.  Goodwill candidates = anything I don't feel like we use enough to justify carrying it back downstairs and placing in an elevated storage spot.  That's a lot of stuff, at this point.
  • Then I dug a path through the debris in my office to the computer, where I started typing this post.
  • And now I'm going to go find some Tylenol and play Angry Birds until I stop wanting to cry or throw something through a wall.  Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue ...
So, how's your day been going?

Thursday, February 24, 2011


That sound you heard yesterday was my 5-year blogiversary flying by, unnoticed by anyone but me.  We've come a long way, baby.

And maybe I'll have more to say about it after I shower off the drywall dust, drive across town, help a bunch of 5-year-olds play with Legos, drive back across town, and meet with the contractor who's supposed to help me remove the cast-iron tub from my tiny bathroom.  That gives me plenty of time to think up something pithy and momentous to say.  Because otherwise, all I've got is BOO-YAH, BABY!!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Upgrading your bathroom in 75,212 easy steps

  1. Purchase a house thoughtfully designed with the plumbing for the main bathroom running through an unheated, uninsulated little architectural vomit of an overhang at the back of the house, then wait for a particularly cold couple of nights.
  2. Attempt to take a shower the next morning and realize that your cold water line has frozen solid.  Rig a heat lamp in the access panel behind the bathtub and thaw out the pipes, leaving the lamp on until the cold weather ends.  This means, of course, that for fire safety reasons you won't be able to put anything in the closet housing the access panel, and you'll have to go to sleep with light streaming from your bedroom closet like something from a horror movie.
  3. Realize that the frozen pipes now have a slight leak in them, just a few drips here an there.  Realize that nothing good can come from this, and you wanted to switch from a two-handle shower to a one-handle shower, anyway, so now's a good time to take care of that.
  4. Have George the Plumber come give an estimate for doing the actual plumbing work to fix the leaks and move the handles.  Confirm which area of the tiles will need to be removed to make room for the new controller.  Arrange to have him come do the work the following Tuesday.
  5. Decide that since the tile near the current handles will need to be replaced, anyway, and the grout in that area is all moldy and gross, it will be easiest to just remove the bottom two rows of tile from around the whole bathtub and replace them with something pretty.
  6. Purchase a grout saw, repair grout (for the moldy gross sections above the sections being removed), extra grout saw blades.  Start shopping for tile.
  7. Use grout saw to remove the grossest grout above the area to be removed.  This is fun - look how pretty the white grout looks! Now start removing all of the grout around the four tiles that need to be removed so the new controller can be installed.  This is less fun - feel how much your hand aches!  Remove tiles, taking care to keep them as whole as possible so you can use them to patch around the new controller.
  8. Shop for tile, deciding that even if you only plan to replace 8 square feet of tile, you can't justify spending $60 a sq. ft. for awesome tile (below) when there's acceptable tile for less than $10.
  9. Purchase tile, thinset mortar, notched trowel, smooth trowel, more grout saw blades, a more ergonomic grout saw, a Dremel rotary tool, a grout-removal kit for the Dremel, tile spacers, grout, float, sponge, and probably a few other things you don't realize you need yet and that they won't stock at just one store so you'll have to drive for 30 minutes to get to the other home improvement store to buy the rest.  Find your heaviest hammer, crappy chisel you don't mind ruining, safety glasses, ear protection, dust mask, and trusty Purdy 6-in-1 painter's tool.  The 6-in-1 is going to be your best friend for the rest of the project, so go ahead and give it a catchy name now.
  10. Begin removing grout along the top of the tiles to be removed, using the grout saw followed by the Dremel.  Tell your spouse that using the Dremel is the most fun you've had with a power tool in a long, long time. 
  11. Let your child help with the grout removal.  No, she doesn't get to use the Dremel, that's my toy.
  12. Begin removing tile, trying to keep as much of it in good condition as you can because who knows, you might need it some day there's such a market for used 1970s tile that can be best described as "inoffensive."  Get annoyed when you chip the edges of a few pieces of tile that aren't supposed to be removed, then realize that's why you need the good condition tiles, to replace the ones you mess up along the edge.
  14. Step back and look at what you're doing.  Seriously.  Take a look at the wallboard and the tile.  I'm fairly certain the paper front of the drywall isn't supposed to come off with the tile, and the inside of the drywall isn't supposed to be gray and spongy, is it? And all that fleecy stuff with little black shiny egg-looking balls in it is just insulation, right?  Not anything to worry about, just JESUS LORD HELP ME JESUS A GIANT MAN-EATING SILVERFISH JUST RAN OVER MY HAND AND MY WALL IS INFESTED WITH (MOSTLY DEAD) BUGS AND I THINK I'M GOING TO HURL ALL OVER THE TILE DEBRIS IN MY BATHTUB 
  15. Okay, fine.  You're an adult, you can handle these things.  Sweep up bug debris, bag all funky/moldy/buggy tile and get it out of the house, sweep again, vacuum, etc.  Realize that "I'll just tile an 8" strip around the tub" has turned into "I'll just replace the drywall and then tile an 8" strip around the tub."  Call the plumber to reschedule because god only knows how long this is going to take.
  16. Continue chipping off the tile, one row at a time, to determine where the water damage stops.  Maybe it's just a few more rows and then everything will be dry and happy and mercifully bug-free!
  17. Or not.
  18. Give up when you realize that all of the walls are moving when you lean on them, and you're going to have to take all the tile down to replace all of the drywall around the shower.  Have fun removing tile with no thought to keeping any of it - heavy hammer to the rescue!  The walls move so much that you can whack at a row of tiles halfway up the wall and tiles below it just fall off the wall!  It's so much fun, let the kid help! And make sure you can't see that she's wearing safety glasses so her grandmothers will call up and be all irate about it!

  19. The drywall probably stopped the moisture from ruining the insulation, right?  So we'll just pull down the drywall and zip - zop - put some back up and we're done, right?
  20. Or not.
  21. Door closed, vent fan on high, all debris double-bagged, no one allowed in the room but the worker, work shoes left in room, respirator upgraded to Darth Vader model, all work clothes washed separately from rest of laundry, worker showers immediately after finishing for the day.  Learn new phrase for what we're doing from episode of Glee watched that night - the Full Silkwood.
  22. Realize that you don't really feel like doing THAT much tile work.  Maybe one of those plastic tub surrounds would be a good alternative?  Wait, they attach directly to studs, so I don't even have to drywall under them?  Sign me up!
  23. Drywall removal - fun when all you need is your hands and a 6-in-1 tool!
  24. Insulation removal - fun when all you need is your hands and a 6-in-1 tool!
  25. Mold removal - fun when ... oh, fuck it, scrubbing mildew off of the guts of your house isn't fun, no matter what tools you get to use.

  26. Call George the Plumber and leave a message.
  27. Call Jerry the Contractor and leave a message, because you are pretty sure that getting a giant cast-iron bathtub out of a tiny room is beyond your capabilities, no matter how much you'd like to take a sledgehammer to that ugly P.O.S.
  28. Return tile, thinset mortar, notched trowel, smooth trowel, more grout saw blades, a more ergonomic grout saw, tile spacers, grout, float, sponge, and probably a few other things you don't need anymore since you're not doing the tile, realizing that they came from stores on opposite sides of town so it's going to take all day. 
  29. Look for new tubs and surrounds at the local home improvement store, and then, dissatisfied with their selection, drive for half an hour to the other major store.  Talk with George the Guy in Plumbing (no relation to George the Plumber) and get the lowdown on how to install one of these babies.  Arrange for spouse to meet you at the store after work, rent the store truck, and haul the new tub and walls home.
  30. Realize that you don't have anyplace to store a tub and plastic walls near the bathroom, so the boxes will just have to go wherever you can find a place for them, no matter how inconvenient.
  31. Haul bags, boxes, and trash cans full of waste to the curb, along with the giant part of a tree that fell out of your neighbor's yard during the last ice storm.  The trash guys are going to love you.
  32. Wait for George and Jerry to return your calls.
  33. Blog.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Organization of my thoughts is a problem when I don't post for weeks at a time

So we'll just go with the tried-and-true (and dreaded) bullet points:
  • February is long, calendar be damned.  But for $7 and a trip to the grocery store, I forced spring to come early, at least in my dining room.
  • Last week the radio host gleefully announced that it was -5F, the coldest he's ever gotten to say on air.  I dealt with a snow (actually ice) day by throwing my old Calvin and Hobbes books in Liza's direction and taking pictures of her reading them while doing yoga.
  • Helping prepare the kindergarten teams for the Lego Olympiad this spring sounded like such a good idea at the time, but after seeing the chaos of 10 kids and one pile of Legos, I may need some sort of pharmaceutical help to get through this.
  • But seriously, how can you resist a face like this?  Who's a cute widdle engineer-in-training? 
  • Lego Olympiad preparation = perfect excuse for me to play with all the cool working parts that came in the giant box of Lego-y goodness my mother found at a yard sale years ago.  See the working crane I put together in 5 minutes?  It tilts and swivels and has a rachety-winch thing.  
  • Too much time indoors = time for a change.  Bye, bye, hair!
  • Last week was ugly.  Jason was gone for part of the time, so Liza got to attend the 3-hour PTO meeting with me, where she had to work on the first math homework she's had in months and practice for her spelling test.  Did I mention we also had to decorate a Valentine's day mailbox, go to her science club at the LENSC, and finish her poster for the 100th day of school? And Friday she had a math test, a spelling test, a 100th day poster presentation, and a Valentine's Day party?  I thought her little head was going to explode, but she made it through in one piece.
  • This weekend it warmed up enough to actually let the child go outside without risking any of her extremities.  So she threw snowballs at the house and attempted to stomp through the 2" thick layer of ice on top of the snow in our yard. 
  • And then we went to see them band birds at the Rocky River Nature Center.  Liza got to release a downy woodpecker - she was much more enthusiastic before she realized that even small birds have talons.
  • Also, we went tobogganing, but I think that deserves its own post.